Chef and parent Scott Caygill’s philosophy when it comes to cooking is simple: Easy, delicious recipes that let him eat well and spend more time with his family.
IN THE KITCHEN WITH SCOTT:
Family Time & Family Recipes
Tell us a little about yourself.
Right now I’m mainly dividing my time between being an executive chef at True Food Kitchen, a health-driven, seasonal foods restaurant chain, and being a dad. My wife (Rachel Caygill, a pastry chef) and I raise two awesome boys, Jack, 4, and Rosco, 2, in Richmond, California. You might think since my wife and I both work in the kitchen professionally, we don’t cook much at home, but one of our favorite things is cooking and baking for family and friends.
How did you get involved in cooking?
I got my first job in a restaurant in 1995, when I was 19. I loved it from the beginning and knew I would make it my career. I went to Culinary School in Seattle in the late 90s and moved to San Diego after I graduated. While in San Diego I spent ten years working with Chef Carl Schroeder, a perennial James Beard nominee, and he did a lot to shape my thinking about cooking. I also met my wife in his kitchen, so that experience definitely had a big impact on my life.
Describe your cooking style.
Seasonal and rustic. I like to let the ingredients speak for themselves.
How did you learn about grass-fed meats?
My wife has been into the Nourishing Traditions lifestyle since we have been together. Grass-fed meat and dairy are very important to their philosophy, and now they’ve become a standard part of the way we eat.
What is your favorite recipe featuring grass-fed meat?
I love braised beef short ribs, and I’ve included my favorite recipe for them here. And though Americans tend to avoid it, I’m a big fan of grass-fed beef tongue—the meat is rich and it has a great texture. We love it slow cooked, and it’s delicious in tacos or with rice and beans (my boys love it this way). I know raw tongue can be a little tough to look at it since it looks like, well, a tongue, but everyone loves the meat (especially if you just say it’s beef!).
Speaking of your boys, do you have any special advice for cooking with kids—or getting them to be better eaters?
I’m not going to lie, cooking with kids, even for professional chefs, is hard! But Jack, who’s 4, is just getting old enough to tackle small tasks in the kitchen, and he gets excited about being involved. We put him on very small, short, simple tasks: peeling garlic, measuring anything, cracking eggs—he loves cracking eggs. And Rosco? He’s a good taster. In terms of eating, our rule is that they have to try everything—and every time, not just once. We eat well in our house, and our hope is that will start to become a habit for them too because it’s familiar.
You’re stranded on a desert island; luckily you’re stranded with your top 5 ingredients and must-have kitchen tool. What are they?
Eggs, pork butt, flour, vinegar, butter and a cast iron Dutch oven.
What is one of the best cooking secret/tip/piece of advice you’ve learned?
Taste your food.
What is your favorite quote/song for culinary inspiration?
Education is experience, and the essence of experience is self-reliance.